Thursday, December 17, 2009

2009, a retrospective pt. 10


Bill Callahan - Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle

I'm always amazed at the way certain authors, certain singers can illuminate a situation with the simplest utterances. Inflection, absence, stress, all these tools prove as important as the actual words, and Bill Callahan proves himself a master craftsman on this album. This is in fullest evidence on the song "Eid Ma Clack Shaw," where the subject of the song wakes from dreaming to scribble the perfect song down, and upon fully awakening, realizes that the precious words made only dream-sense, and are of no real help to him awake. Mr. Callahan evokes this sense of despair, and also a sense of hopeful stubbornness, as he sings the dream-nonsense words. Perhaps perhaps perhaps the song may still have power over the waking world. As the song closes, Mr. Callahan repeats the chorus, "Show me the way to shake a memory," leaving one to conclude that the gibberish "perfect song" did nothing for our narrator. Bill Callahan's precise, careful words are borne upon similarly glass-like music constructed from strings, piano, guitars, and couple of horns. It is a heady combination, blending with but also exalting the somber baritone of Mr. Callahan. This is not a simple album, nor an easily approached album, but given time to sink into your skin, it is a tremendously rewarding listen.

Bill Callahan - Too Many Birds

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